Government Intervenes In Lawsuit Against Florida Compounding Pharmacy For Excessive Charges To TRICARE
Tampa– Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announces that the government has intervened in a lawsuit against a Florida compounding pharmacy owner, Renier Gobea (41, Tampa), and his company, RS Compounding LLC, located at 12617 Race Track Road (Tampa, FL), alleging that Gobea and RS Compounding billed TRICARE excessive prices for compounded prescriptions.
The lawsuit alleges that between January 1, 2012, and January 31, 2014, Gobea and RS Compounding charged TRICARE at least 2,000 percent more for drugs than it charged cash-paying customers, in violation of the False Claims Act. TRICARE, the health care program for uniformed service members and their families, prohibits pharmacies from charging TRICARE more than the general public. Unfortunately, Gobea and RS Compounding charged TRICARE vastly more than they charged cash-paying customers, in some cases over 10,000 percent more.
Gobea and RS Compounding’s actions are part of a larger trend of fraud against TRICARE involving compounded prescriptions. TRICARE’s costs for compounded drugs rose from $5 million in 2004 to $514 million in 2014 and $1.75 billion in fiscal year 2015. To date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida has diligently pursued fraud associated with compounding pharmacies, resulting in over $57 million in settlements.
This lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties to sue on behalf of the government when they discover evidence that defendants have submitted false claims for government funds and to receive a share of any recovery. The False Claims Act also permits the government to intervene in such lawsuits, as it has done in this case. The case is captioned United States ex rel. McKenzie Stepe v. RS Compounding LLC, Renier Gobea, Case No. 8:13-cv-3150-T-33AEP (M.D. Fla.). The claims asserted by the government are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.
The government’s complaint in this matter illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud. One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act. Tips from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).
The investigation was conducted by TRICARE, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. It is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shea M. Gibbons and Christopher Tuite.